Wednesday, July 15, 2015

More on being a woman in comics

As long as I'm putting stuff out here, I was also irritated about that Jeremy Renner/Chris Evans interview, and then Renner's follow-up:

There are many internet articles out there about it, but one thing I like about this one is that it specifies that the movies don't show Natasha being involved with anyone. There are flirtations, and there are fans of certain pairings, but there is no sex.

Renner's refusal to take it back focuses on sex, but it's non-existent. If any team member should be called "slut", it's Tony. It speaks to the double-standard that Natasha would be judged differently than Tony for the same behavior, but there isn't even equivalent behavior. So let's go back to the first interview.

The interviewer mentions the fans being invested in Natasha being with either Steve or Clint, and now the movie seemed to be pairing her with Bruce, and asked about that.

Renner: "She's a slut."
(Big laughter from Evans)
Evans: Or something along that line. Complete whore.
Renner: Tramp, man.
Evans: Slut.

The interviewer then said that whatever happens in the films, she will always be the sidekick, and they said something about leading them on, and then they moved on, because it wasn't important. Renner's defense has partially been that this is a fictional character so it's stupid to get mad over it. Well, I think there might be a few points.

First of all, they are not calling Natasha a slut for sleeping with her team members, but for not sleeping with them. That happens in real life. Guys call women they want and don't get sluts. Girls label other girls sluts when they are mad at them, regardless of sexual activity levels. It is a word used to keep social controls in place, which is reason enough not to use it. I am aware that some women adopt the word in order to fight it, like with slut walks, but how the word gets used is reason enough for any man to consider striking it from his vocabulary because there is a really strong probability that any time he uses it he is being an ass.

The interesting thing to me was that there appeared to be a feeling that if Natasha flirted with them, then she should be committed to more. I detected a sense of ownership. Again, this is something that happens in the real world. Fictional characters can show us things about the world, both within the context of their stories and in our reactions to them, so I don't think it should be dismissed so lightly.

However, it's going to take a pretty ugly turn that I will save for Monday. For now, let's leave with some words from another fictional character.

"It's kind of a double-edged sword, isn't it? Well if you say you haven't, you're a prude. If you say you have, you're a slut. It's a trap. You want to but you can't, and when you do you wish you didn't, right? Or are you a tease?"

- Allison Reynolds, The Breakfast Club

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